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Thursday's Daily Pulse

600,000 Florida customers are behind on their electric bills. How will that end?

Nearly 600,000 electric customers in Florida are behind in monthly payments since the coronavirus pandemic began hammering the economy and causing massive job losses, state utility regulators were told Wednesday. While the overall number of customers late in making payments has shown some improvement from an initial peak of the crisis in April, utility officials told the Florida Public Service Commission that a challenge remains in getting in touch with many of the customers. [Source: Miami Herald]

See also:
» Tampa Bay power companies among first to resume shutoffs

Norwegian Cruise Line cancels cruises until November, one month past CDC ban

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is canceling cruises until November. The Miami-based company announced it is canceling cruises worldwide through October 31, a full month after the ban on cruises put in place by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention expires. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is the world’s third largest cruise company and owner of three cruise lines: Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. [Source: Miami Herald]

Opinion: Florida’s top CEOs — 135 strong — call for masks and more to stem rising COVID-19 cases

In a unique show of unity, 135 top Florida executives call for Floridians to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by following the CDC’s safety guidelines, including wearing a mask when you’re outside of your home. Florida Blue CEO Pat Geraghty spearheaded the effort, which represents a mix of industries, including business, non-profit, academic and health care. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Frantic to hire nurses, Florida spends millions on recruits

In the last month as hospitals filled up and cases soared, the Florida Department of Emergency Management signed $379 million in purchase orders for “staff augmentation” services to provide reinforcements to hospital staff facing burnout. The deals, most of them no-bid arrangements, were for everything from nurses to conduct drive-up COVID tests, to respiratory therapists, intensive care unit nurses and certified nursing assistants. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Reopened parks keep characters close — in new, socially distant ways

Meeting Orlando’s theme-park characters isn’t like it used to be. In pre-pandemic times, kids lined up to give a high-five to Buzz Lightyear at Magic Kingdom, pose for photos beside Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure or come eye-to-googly-eye with Cookie Monster at SeaWorld. But coronavirus and social distancing have forced attractions to rethink how visitors interact with characters. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]


› Roper Tech posts lower profits and sales in second quarter
Sales and net profits drifted lower in the second quarter at Roper Technologies Inc. Roper, a diversified tech company with executive headquarters in Lakewood Ranch, posted net income of $219.2 million, or $2.08 per diluted share, in the three-month period ended June 30. That was down from $249.7 million, or $2.38 per share, one year earlier.

› Tupperware executives say company is ‘pivoting’ upward even as sales fall 16% compared with last year
Tupperware’s sales were down 16% compared with last year in the second quarter, but executives at the Osceola County-based business were optimistic Wednesday after years of declining sales. “Overall, we believe our business would have been essentially flat year-over-year without the estimated net $35 million negative impact from the pandemic,” said CFO Sandra Harris.

› Sarasota County nonprofits asked to provide COVID-19 feedback
The local nonprofit community is being asked to provide input on how federal CARES Act Funding should be distributed in Sarasota County. Sarasota County Health and Human Services is asking nonprofits to fill out a survey and participate in two virtual training assistance sessions from 3 to 4 p.m. on Thursday and 10 to 11 a.m. on Friday.

› Traffic is down in Greater Miami. The reason may not be cause for celebration
Under normal circumstances, if a Miami-area driver were told area rush hour traffic was down about 30%, they might run out to test how fast they could take the Palmetto Expressway. But the reason for the current traffic decline may not be cause for much joyriding, according to traffic congestion tracking group TomTom.

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› Worker’s fraud nearly bankrupts Sarasota business
A Sarasota sausage kitchen’s warehouse manager was sentenced to prison after he defrauded his company out of more than $250,000, nearly bankrupting the family run company, prosecutors announced Wednesday. According to the office of Ed Brodsky, state attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit, in 2018 the family owners of Geier’s Sausage Kitchen noticed a significant drop in revenue and could not determine the cause.

› Nonprofit, after national search, chooses new CFO
Eckerd Connects, a Clearwater-based nonprofit that assists children, young adults and families in need, has named Tony Van Slyke its new CFO. According to a press release, Eckerd Connects conducted a national search to fill the role.

› First Blue Angel F/A-18 Super Hornet arrives in Pensacola to mark ‘historic’ day
As the old saying goes, it’s great when a plan comes together. Not even COVID-19 could halt the Blue Angels’ long-anticipated plan to swap out Boeing F/A-18 “Legacy” Hornet fighter jets in favor of the more powerful F/A-18 Super Hornets in time for the 2021 air show season. On Monday morning, the first painted Super Hornet made its triumphant arrival in Pensacola.

› Miami Beach has shut down Airbnb amid COVID. Here’s where you can still book
With many hotels and motels on the brink of bankruptcy and Airbnbs heavily regulated, legal short-term rental options are running low in Miami-Dade County. The county reopened hotels and motels on June 1 with new safety measures and restrictions, including mandatory mask-wearing for guests and staff, capacity limits for common areas, and pet, gym and minibar bans.